Bell Pottinger CEO quits amid Gupta scandal - report

Cape Town – James Henderson, CEO of UK-based PR firm Bell Pottinger, resigned over the weekend.

The British Financial Times reported on Sunday that Henderson, a significant shareholder in the firm, stepped down on the back of an independent report into work done for the controversial Gupta family.

According to the Financial Times, Henderson’s position has been in question since he issued an apology for the work done for the Gupta family and Oakbay capital.

In a statement issued in July this year, the firm said it took decisive action to not repeat previous mistakes.

READ: Former Gupta firm apologises 

“At various points throughout the tenure of the Oakbay account, senior management have been misled about what has been done. For it to be done in South Africa, a country which has become an international beacon of hope for its progress towards racial reconciliation, is a matter of profound regret and in no way reflects the values of Bell Pottinger,” it said.

In the statement containing the apology, Bell Pottinger said law firm law firm, Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, has been hired to review the Gupta account and the work done for companies associated with the family.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has alleged that Bell Pottinger stoked racial hatred in South Africa in the work they did for the Gupta family and Duduzane Zuma, President Jacob Zuma’s son.

The party subsequently lodged a complaint against Bell Pottinger with the British-based Public and Relations and Communications Association (PRCA).

The DA’s complaint was upheld, but the company has meanwhile decided to appeal the PRCA’s decision, said DA spokesperson Phumzile Van Damme.

According to Van Damme, the PRCA board of management will meet on Monday to consider the appeal and will issue its final ruling on Tuesday.

Henderson told the BBC that the company was “naïve” and had no intention to stir racial hatred.

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